Saturday, December 26, 2015

Merry Christmas!

I drank coffee and Baileys at 8:00 (oops!) so this may be a bit tangential. Firstly, we had a Christmas miracle when not a single person woke up with norovirus! We cut it close yesterday, and tomorrow's iffy, but it was a vomit free holiday. Thank God. 
The kids let us sleep until 7:30
Stockings were a huge hit. I probably could've just stopped there. The girls got many lip glosses and Eli got a WWE poster that he couldn't figure out because he's never seen a poster before?
We had our tree in the playroom this year which was nice for space and curb appeal, but a little weird. Also, Syd was disappointed to have neither a nightgown or footies.
The kids bought us all gifts. Syd's to me was a holiday mug and Eli's was a phone case that hooks to your bike handles. Sweet boy...
So. Much. Wrestling.
The girls got the Calico Critter starter kit and I couldn't be more excited. If they also get American Girl Dolls I can totally fulfill all my childhood wish lists.
Avery's big gift was a scooter that she refused to ride outside, preferring to drag it down the street. I had to bribe her to pose.
C got a knife sharpening kit and has been psychotic ally gleeful about sharpening all the things all day.
Syd's new Kindle. And so another one bites the dust...
I bought the kids Beanboozled thinking it'd be a fun game for the family to play. Then I got a dog food jelly bean and quit.
Traditional chili and cinnamon rolls. So good and so low maintenance!
We finished the day with a movie fest and grown up coloring books. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

For Posterity

I locked Avery out of the bathroom and she stood outside shrieking. 
Me: Avery! Stop screaming! Your sister's sleeping!
A: I hate this stupid door!
Me: Avery! We don't say "stupid" and we don't scream. Use your words!
A: Ahhhhh! Grown ups say stupid shit!

Couldn't make this up if I tried.

Monday, December 14, 2015


Holy Cow. You guys, we were SO busy this last weekend. It was essentially all the Christmas things crammed into two days, and on top of Eli's first overnight field trip.

I took Thursday and Friday off to hang with the girls so that C could volunteer with Eli's class. They've been researching California pioneers and the project culminated with them living as factual historical characters for 48 hours in an old fort. Eli loved it so so much. C could have done with more sleep and less fire-tending, but he had a great time. It was supposed to dump rain the whole time they were there, but luckily it cleared up during the day. Made for a cold evening I hear. 

Averson and I went to watch the wagon trains arrive and check on Daddy. 
That evening the girls and I went back for the family dinner. These two were legit and having so much fun! Syd had a total meltdown as we left and sobbed for the entire 45 minute drive about missing her brother. It was very sweet and very dramatic. Typical Syd. 
Seriously. How cute are they? 

While the boys were gone we decorated the Christmas tree. Like I said, the whole things' been a little "meh" so we didn't break out the boxes of ornaments. Instead we went with twinkle lights and a set of little white clip-on birds that Avery picked out at the craft store. I kind of love it a lot. It's very sweet and touchable and low maintenance. Also, I've lost my tree skirt, which is very weird. 

Saturday morning (yes, we're only to Saturday morning) we went to the kids' PTO Winter Wonderland breakfast. Syd heard a rumor that there might be "real snow!" so I thought she'd be disappointed by the bubble-blowing excuse for snow. She wasn't and they frolicked for a long, long time in the "storm." They also shopped at the "Secret Santa Store" and brought home the cutest bag of gifts for each other. 
I keep all of the wrapped gifts from us, Santa, and relatives stashed away until Christmas morning, so theirs are the only ones under there. I love how they've got them all lined out on my super classy Dollar Tree skirt. They're all very serious about keeping the secrets. And Syd learned the valuable lesson of gifting when she spent her first allotment on herself and had to rake leaves to earn the money to pay for her scarf and her lipgloss. Sob. Rake. Repeat. 

Saturday night our friends threw a "Redneck Christmas Party" which ended up with me shamefully and declaratively drunk at 4:30 following a spirited game of beer pong and jello shots out of Dixie Cups, then hungover by 10:00. Also, our costumes came straight out of our closet, my sister said, "You look just like you did when you were 15," and a lot of the jokes were lost on me. Pretty sure I might be a Redneck...

Sunday morning we were supposed to get our family pictures (that had already been rescheduled for weather) taken, but stupid rain and stupid cancelling meant that it didn't happen. I gave up and ordered my Plan B card from Costco. Hoping for better luck in January. Then Syd and I classed it up to see the play "Cinderella" with her Daisy Scouts. 

The play was SO GOOD and it was fun to get all dressed up for the theater with this one. They did a different version of the play and it was funny and interactive and not at all a kiddy play. 

Then we rushed home to get the rest of the troops ready for our realtor's annual Christmas party. She hosts it at a restaurant with an open bar and awesome apps, and she always has a good Santa with no lines, no pervy vibes, and no mall germs. It's totally worth making C wear pants once a year. 
Kind of bummed Eli wasn't in this, but the girls were sitting there preciously and he was being angsty about being forced to miss part of WWE TLC. He would've just been rolling his eyes anyway. He did smile for the Santa picture so I'll take the W. 
She calls this her "holiday dress" and put her tights on by herself. It's pretty much the cutest thing ever. 

I'm exhausted, but 100% in the holiday spirit now! I'm jamming out to Christmas music in the car, presents are getting wrapped, cards will be going out this week, and next week I start on two glorious weeks off. I'm going to dedicate an entire day to cookies and tamales!

*Edited to add that on Friday night the kids and I (minus C who was still in a coma) were invited to an AMAZING living Nativity at the LDS temple. It was completely, phenomenally breathtaking. This stake (?) has borrowed the sets and costumes from a stake in Las Vegas and it was incredible. Then we all went to Starbucks for hot chocolate and I literally bumped into Pauley Shore (link added because I've mentioned it to enough people who replied "Who?" that I feel old and irrelevant.) I muttered something awesome like, "Oh. Hey!" and then he went to sit in the corner. He did hang with the kids for a few minutes checking out Eli's marbles and homemade leather pouch (from the field trip) and our friend's teenage daughter/our awesome babysitter whispered under her breath, "What's up, creepy man?" No pictures. Obviously. Not nearly as cool as my Sir-Mix-A-Lot encounter, but another notch in my 90's celebrity belt nonetheless.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Easing into Christmas

Some years I am ALL OVER the holiday and we are Griswolded by the first week of December. This is not one of those years. But!

We have a tree! It's not decorated yet, but it's there!

And the decorations are slowly coming out. I'm still trying to come up with a cool way to display out old Santa pics and Christmas cards. Any suggestions?

I was on top of shopping (Ramsey help us. He would emphatically disapprove). So now my guest room is full, like hoarder full, of boxes. I need to inventory soon so my kids won't know Whe the favorite is. I also need some stocking stuffers. Avery asked for a candy cane, so I can probably lower my bar. But I won't, of course.

I have two weeks off starting on the 21st, so I plan to get very Christmas-y soon. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

I exist!

And we've been doing really fun stuff like going to the coast and potty training. But blogging is like going to the gym. Once you stop its hard to start back up (side note, totally stalling going to the gym by writing this). So I'll tell you that I had a craptastic day at headquarters today (including the 2+ hours stuck in traffic) and spent a bathroom break yelling obscenities into the phone trying to convey to C just how craptastic it was. But then he took all three kids grocery shopping, made delicious burgers served with alcoholic root beer and finished off with holiday Joe Joe's and my book. That man truly gets me.
A tiger wearing Jake and the Neverland Pirates chonies. Backwards. I said, "Don't pee on your tail!" at least a dozen times.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Family Day

Today was the perfect quasi-hipster, suburban family day in the city. We met up with a grad school friend who just moved here with her family and took 5 kids to the art museum. Then C and I took our hellions to this great playground for a picnic. The kids had a blast and I only found one needle! (Ugh) 
We trekked half a mile so she could dance on this stage
I didn't even know merry-go-rounds still existed!
He saw this and said, "My most prominent feature now is my teeth!" This kid cracks me up.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Tis the Season

I am a crafty person. I dream of making all the things, and I love a good project. With all the kids and the jobs and the adulting though, I don't often get a chance to really go to town. Also, I have found that my desire to really make a mess and create is negatively correlated with my responsibility and obligation to clean up after myself.

All that goes to pot for Halloween. I love to make costumes. I have fond memories of my own homemade costumes. It's not financially reasonable to make all my kids clothes, but gosh darn it, I can make them a costume! Which of course means that my kids love the store bought. I still manage to make something every year though. Last year I hit the jackpot with my Pizza Box and my Cowgirl Princess. This year I have two store-bought mermaids and a homemade (meaning I bought boots and cargo pants) Roman Reigns (shocker, right?) (Also. Pretty sure everyone will assume he's a stripper)

BUT. Today alone I have made:

Four mermaid crowns with real seashells

Nine minion t-shirts

A tactical chest protector
Creamy chicken soup from scratch
A huge ass of myself at work (again) (I think I may be just a *teensy* bit more stressed than I allowed myself to believe.) But moving on

My fingers are covered in paint and my playroom is covered in projects and I kind of really love it :)
There's totally a 1970s kitchen in my playroom. Long story.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

It's still 100 degrees

Firstly, thank you to everyone who publicly and privately rallied behind Syd. I talked to the teacher and a few other parents, and it sounds like my student had a very one-sided perspective. I also wrote her an email about my feelings about how the information was brought up and labeled, and she replied with a genuine, authentic apology. Grown-ups, FTW!

In other news, it's mid-October here on the bright side of the sun. I'm convinced that it will never, ever be below 90 again. My cords mock me. I make things in the crock pot because it's too hot to stand over the stove. I crave chili like nobody's business. I wore boots and a tank top to the apple orchard just to spite  Mother Nature. My kids wore shorts and sundresses.
Sun flare on my Fall shot

We went hiking last weekend and, surprise! It was hot. And dry. This hike was hyped up in the local "mommy community" as being a great one for kids, but very very crowded. Lucky for us, they found a body burned at the trailhead a few weeks ago. I figured this was a perfect opportunity for us to beat the crowds. (Reasons I can't be around normal people for 1000, Alex) I was right and there weren't a ton of people there. But the hike was definitively not awesome. It was essentially a dirt road and then a steep climb down to a puddle. With a 40 pound weight strapped to my back. My legs are still sore. Syd was a trooper though. She hiked the mile and a half back with no water, no energy, and near tears but refused to be carried and didn't whine once. So proud of this girl. Avery slept on the hike back, which made it even more comfortable because we were basically the two headed woman.
Before we ran out of water and energy and optimism.

My dad and stepmom came to visit over the weekend. He's very health/body conscious and he's in awe of the fact that I've been consistently going to the gym at the buttcrack of dawn. He does BeachBody videos (as does my brother) and he's been bragging about doing them more often lately. So there were a lot of "so...what do you do at the gym? Do you do _____?"  I have no idea where I got my competitiveness, but he made us retake this twice because he didn't like that my hand was "blocking out" his bicep. :)

And we have a fence!! Or at least fence posts! It's 6+ feet of beautiful, redwood, privacy goodness. I cannot wait to get the backyard enclosed and start working on making that an awesome area for us to hang out (especially if it's going to be perpetual summer in the desert here.) I'm thinking lots of color in the furniture and some whimsical yard art. I keep bringing up the yard art because it makes C crazy. I'm totally getting whirly gigs.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Boundaries are important

Boundaries are super important. My fence = boundary. Not using my first name at work = boundary. Not socializing with people I supervise = boundary. Not accepting friend requests from students = boundary. I'm pretty big on boundaries. Which leads to my quandary.

One of my students (adult learners) has a daughter in Syd's class. We occasionally talk about the girls, and we're splitting some room parent duties. Tonight she tells me, casually and with an apologetic smile, that "You daughter is a mean girl." She went on to tell me that my daughter yells at the other kids, that they're terrified of her, and that no one plays with her. Apparently her daughter has a large group of friends and none of them want to play with Sydney because she's just that "terrifying."

1) WTF? In what universe are we as mothers allowed to flay other people's children like that? You may tell me in detail what a raging maniac your kid is. He may be a raging maniac. He may set my kid on fire. But I am not allowed to call him a raging maniac to your face. I thought this was explicitly written in the mom code.

2) You don't approach the professor after class to criticize her child, in front of other students. I was dumfounded and all I could do was give her the "WTF? look" and say, "Huh. I'll ask Syd about that. She hasn't mentioned that the kids are scared of her."

So now I've got some distance and all the hindsight comebacks (starting with "Let's not call my kid a 'mean girl'" and ending with "Why don't you send me an e-mail with your concerns and we can discuss it later if necessary." Fill in the middle with all the Mama Bear fueled expletives). But I can't avoid this woman because she's a student. And I can't tell her off, again because she's a student. So what the hell?

FWIW, I did talk to Syd because I freaked out and started crying in the car thinking that she was either being unkind to her classmates or being totally shunned and mean-girl-ed. She said that a lot of the girls tell her they don't like her and don't want to be her friend, but then said she didn't want to talk about it because she would cry. This girl does wear her heart on her sleeve so I'm not too worried about the over-emotional part, but GAH! She's been in kindergarten all of a month. I'd hoped to avoid this drama a little longer. C assures me that there are kids who talk to her and she's been invited on a couple playdates, so I can't picture her as the monster of Room A, but seriously. WTF?

Non-class BFFs. Total beasts

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Chipping away

I haven't blogged much because we really feel like we're just trucking along, and we're really busy. But then you stop and nothing seems particularly "blog-worthy." So brace yourself for a (hopefully not too) tedious catch up post.  C is coaching both Eli and Sydney's soccer teams, so three times a week it's all soccer all the time. I haven't totally committed to my role as soccer mom though, so I haven't bought the collapsible wagon. Eli's team is getting stomped and Syd's team is adorably chaotic. It's an emotional roller coaster every weekend.

My grand plan of living on Ramen for a month turned out, surprisingly, to be a terrible idea. I swear there's been a different fundraiser every. single. fucking. week this month. Z books! Jog-a-thon! Girl Scout Nut Sale (did anyone even know this was a thing? And do you want some nuts?)! Jamba Juice! Just send in money and we'll tell you why later! This is why they say kids are expensive. Disregard the food, medical expenses, college funds. It's all about the f-ing Z books. So now I have five on my kitchen counter because they're also not allowed to go door-to-door, so the only people who purchased them live out of state. SMH.

BUT, there will be a fence very, very soon. At this moment I am soaking our fence line in preparation for pilot holes. My "down with brown" soul is dying a little bit but I will not miss the spectator show in the back yard at all. My crispy dead tree will be gone next week. Now if I can just build a huge fence in the front yard to block out my view of the neighbor's crosses in the front yard, I'll be all set!

It's the end of September and we're STILL having triple digit days. It's putting a huge kink in my love of fall. I bought two new pairs of corduroys and they're just sadly staring at me from my closet, while my capris are like a terrible drug. I want to stop, but I just can't. Because it's a million, million degrees. I am so sick of my short sleeved shirts and shorts and sandals. I've basically stopped cooking because I can't handle a single day more of BLTs or tacos, so we're all eating like six year olds. I need soup! Chili haunts my dreams! My crock pot is calling to me!

In true Chiconky-fashion, I "accidentally" over extended myself and headed up a huge event at work, then volunteered to represent Mental Health in another huge training three days later. Our event was yesterday and is now blessedly over for the next year. I think I walked about 10 miles yesterday with a clipboard tucked under my arm and a radio clipped to my collar. It went well, aside from my yelling at an officer for f-ing up the raffle system and having to admit that I can't ever tell the warden from another person. Nice to look like an emotional moron every once in a while. Eli stayed after to help us clean up and got a shit ton of leftovers thrown at him. So now we have a three foot tall, filled Elmo piƱata and a long board.  
I can't imagine it's going to be less creepy when it's decapitated

I've been about 80% in going to the gym every morning. I sleep in my gym clothes, and then when my alarm goes off at 4:00 I have to decide whether I'm willing to "waste" the clothes or just get my happy ass out of bed. Most times I manage to get there, and I'm usually one of the first five. Gyms are quite lovely that early, by the way. I can lift without feeling stupid around the "real" weight lifters, and I can always get my favorite machines. I have a half-marathon in two weeks that I'm woefully under-prepared for, but I'm hoping that the weights and the cardio I have been doing will get me through it. Survival mode here. I think once this one's over, I'm done with races for a bit. I'm burned out on training and want to just start exercising to feel good. I also really want a FitBit, but I haven't decided if I want one because they're cool, or because everyone has one. I'd love opinions if you've got one. I can see myself getting really obsessed and pulling a Mandel.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Just to be clear

This one was in time-out adorably screaming at me, when she added in, "I'm so mad at you! And my sister's mad at you too!" 
Syd pipes in from the other room in a perky voice, "Actually, I'm not mad at you at all." Shut her sister down efficiently. Poor Avery got left all on her own, apologized, and put the damn Tupperware away.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

What do my creepy neighbors and my grocery budget have in common?

Interesting question, right? So I have creepy neighbors on two sides. The ones across the street are entertaining and I'll catch you up later. The ones next door are kind of boring and share a waist high, chain link fence with us. Apparently it's been that way for 50 years. And they love to sit in their back yard and watch the birds, chat, and sometimes watch my kids play. This is creepy, but not creepy because they're both in their eighties and perfectly harmless. Crotchety, but harmless. The creepy creepy part is their grandson, who's been spending more and more time with them. He's not in his eighties. He also drinks, a lot. And I often catch him talking to someone that no one else can see. He gives me the heebie-jeebies. More technically, he sets off my mur-dar (and I consider my mur-dar to be fairly well honed).

A few weeks ago the kids wanted to camp out in the backyard like good, suburban kids do. I reluctantly bundled up and got comfy for a night under the stars with my kids. After the kids were asleep I was lying on the grass browsing my phone and looked over to see grandson on the back porch smoking a cigarette, looking right at us. *shudder*

So now I need a fence. Like, right this second. I have a lovely, handy husband who could build one. However, that same lovely handy husband is a perfectionist so it would probably be done by the time Avery started high school. So I have to pay for a fence and I'm not in the mood to scrimp and save for it. In true impulsive fashion, I've dedicated a third of our budget for next month to building a fence. It's going to be glorious and solid and seven feet tall and I cannot wait. I was practically giddy as I spray painted the lines in preparation for the utilities to be marked.

BUT, that means that my grocery budget is getting cut pretty much in half. And all the other budgets are getting cut even more. It's going to be a tight, very boring month. Which is why I come to you, internets. I've lived on much less (grad school anyone?) but I had much lower standards and was only feeding two already-grown adults. What are your tips for feeding an actual family on a super-tight budget? I'm pretty sure feeding them ramen for a month straight is a bad idea...

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Back to School, Back to School...

Name that tune :)

This last week both Eli AND Sydney went back to school. And in a surprising twist of fate, our new(ish) school district does full-time Kindergarten. When Eli went it was half-day and so that's what we were expecting for Syd. I was totally fine with her making this transition until I realized that she'd be in school all day. Like a legit kid. Thinking about her eating lunch and then going back to class got me a little choked up.

I took the day off so that I could do drop off and pick-up. Syd's class had a parent participation scavenger hunt (OMG. All the snowflakes!), so I was actually able to participate in something. Maybe now her teacher will recognize me six months from now. Syd was great and didn't hesitate at all. She'd made new friends and was ruling the carpet by the time I left. That one. She's a force.

Eli jumped right back in. He loves his teacher and is making friends. He's also taken on his role as big brother with a passion. He very seriously walked Syd to her classroom and kept giving her tips and tricks. Then he introduced himself to her teacher. Love that kid so much.
Syd's backpack kills me. I love it in all it's enormous glory.

Eli was more excited than he looks, but he's become too cool for all my mamarazzi ways. Syd was as excited as she looks. Avery wanted in on the fun so grabbed a toy lunch box and her backpack to photobomb the Bigs.


I have an awesome back to school post, but I can't figure out how to get my pictures right on the new computer and I already erased them off my phone because I decided that when I blog on my phone my writing suffers (see, improvements already right?)

In the meantime, there was some professional excitement last week. On Wednesday I was coming back from a planning meeting in the warden's office, which is "outside the fence." That means that to get back to my office I had to re-enter the prison proper, through several gates and security check-points. Just as I got to my office, one of co-workers came by to tell me that there was an all staff response code one yard over (about 3/4 mile.) These are fairly rare, but they do happen. I'm never quite sure what our job is, since we're not "real doctors" but we respond all the same. We generally are tasked with taking notes. So I grabbed a pen and my stab vest and started race walking. There is no running in prison, ever, so you get very good at walking fast. As we left our yard, I looked to my left to see the officer from my treatment area sprinting pass us. This is maybe the first or second time I have ever seen an officer run fast on grounds. No running in prison is a serious rule. I looked to my friend and said, "That's not good." At that point I got even faster and my heart started to race. Then we heard the sirens blaring from ambulances from the local town. She looked at me and said, "That's really not good." After that we looked over and all the gates were open. That is very, very not good. So we hauled ass. We ended up blasting into the yard at the front of the line of mental health staff, right behind a man carrying a 5 gallon drum of pepper spray. All hell had broken loose. We were escorted through the security gate just as they were escorting the first inmate out. He was walking, but he was covered from the chest down in blood. My guess is that it wasn't all his. As we made our way to the staging area we were surrounded by inmates on gurneys, inmates being escorted by officers, and staff waiting to be dispatched. Right after we had gotten through, they had closed off the gate, so most of my co-workers were being staged outside of the secure area. Turns out they sat for over an hour, watching ambulances get loaded and waiting to be needed.

On the inside, we milled around trying simultaneously to be safe and helpful. I couldn't see much, but I saw a huge mass of officers out on the yard and they would occasionally walk or wheel an inmate into the medical area where I was. It was awful, but the organization of it all was amazing. People snapped into their duties and became these commanding forces. We were tasked with collecting medical equipment from other areas of the prison, so my friend and I grabbed three of our staff and ran (that part is still surreal) back out to the outer perimeter. Fortuitously, the maintenance crew was waiting right outside with heavy duty carts. We split in two and had the crew drive us to the other medical areas where we were able to grab vitals machines and load them back on the carts. I jumped in the back to keep them from flying out and rode redneck style back to the incident. We ran them inside, then got busy finding other necessary pieces. (Side note, Aerosoles and Payless SafTSteps are both great shoes for both running and navigating mysterious puddles. Now you know.) The biggest challenge was figuring out what the pieces actually were. Now I know what an oxygen tree looks like. We also had a front row seat for the carnage, including nearly getting run over by the casualty.

After a while we were dismissed because we were more in the way than useful. Walking out, the adrenalin quickly drained out of me so that by the time I got back to my office, the only useful thing I could do was call C so he knew I was okay before his phone blew up with breaking news.

It turns out that the incident was a riot with nearly 100 inmates, 1 death, and multiple admits to the hospital. In other words, it was big. And it was scary. But it was awesome to be a part of. The unity and the cohesiveness was amazing. People literally fell into step with each other. Everyone jumped in, and the people who weren't put to work anxiously waited for a way to help. Prison is a weird place and I often joke that we're not normal people. On one hand it's a joke, but on the other hand there is truth to it. It's what makes me love this job, despite days like today that were shitastic.

I also love my Payless work shoes. They're not cute, but I hosed them off in the front yard before I came into my house and the next morning they're good as new.

Monday, August 10, 2015

WWE and other updates

WWE. And then his head exploded. All in all awesome, but next time I'm going to suggest it as a boys night. Between Syd melting down after accidentally sipping a stranger's drink (hilarious, btw) and my impatience with the commercial breaks, I'm afraid 50% of our tickets were wasted. But E made eye contact with Roman Reigns and hasn't stopped talking about it since.

Syd had an art sale. 
Eli bought me jewelry. He was a little worried because, "They're pretty big and you're kind of little"
Syd grew this flower! She's been diligent about watering it and checking in it regularly. Pretty exciting, especially since with the drought it may be all the greenery she gets.
I ❤️ school supplies. Both kids are all packed up and ready. Syd's going to be in Kindergarten, full day. It just struck me and I had a mini-meltdown in the target lot. But she's excited. So's C, who'll be home with one single, solitary kid who still takes two + hour naps.